What Are the Most Useful Software Packages For Interior Designers?

Potential students of interior design often question whether they have the aptitude to work within the industry given the range of skills that are necessary. Most students don’t focus on learning everything but ensure that they know enough to become specialists in their own niche within the interior design world.

It is rare that an interior designer (student or designer working in the field) will not have an understanding of at least one software package but if they don’t they will be employing someone who does.

Everybody has a favourite software determined from the unique combination of the following: the range of features, ease of use, interface, familiarity and even price. I am going to list and briefly explain 5 commonly used packages.


AutoCAD is perhaps the most widely known/used and is the industry standard at what it does being the go-to software of technicians and those interested in finer details.

It is used to produce both 2D and 3D images. Any student can quickly move from a sheet of paper with some metric dimensions to produce a visual able to communicate to third parties. Architectural drawings and plans are possible as are 3D proposed models of what the designer will be showing to the client. For a student needing to quickly communicate information without overdoing the visuals, AutoCAD is the recommended software.

2. SketchUp

SketchUp is an easy to use and intuitive 3D drawing package that enables interior designers to produce a range of visuals and layout demonstrations ranging from simple to extremely complicated depending on what is needed. The range of features has been extended hugely over time. It has a hugely intuitive menu and allows students with no background in interior design or architecture to quickly produce visuals that will leave no question of doubt by anybody over what they are getting at. Using this package will quickly enhance the student’s understanding of design, space planning and colour blending. For a student just wanting to experiment a bit this is the preferred choice of software.

3. Vectorworks

Vectorworks is a CAD and 3D modelling software suitable for Interior Designers.  This software is more modelling based and is rigorous in its nature, so it is more demanding to learn. Vectorworks comes in a number of different packages and has a standardised version also. A student producing a final project that is theoretical, would use this software to produce a final presentation but they are unlikely to dip into this software just to play around. If they have an end result in mind, this software is the ideal one to achieve it.

4. Artlantis

Artlantis is drawing software designed for use by interior designers, often used in combination with ArchiCAD. This package is a modelling tool that is used to produce images that are indistinguishable from real life photos. It could be used instead of Vectorworks to produce 3D theoretical what if scenarios (and models) for clients but its most likely use would be to highlight the effects of a change in the structure of an interior room or outside building. Given the software’s ability to incorporate lifelike shadows, before and after scenarios eg what the insertion of a minibar would look like in the dining area, is a likely use

and shows the versatility of this package.

5. Rhino 3D

Rhino (Rhinoceros 3D) is a 3D Graphics CAD software package suitable for use by interior designers. The main area of use is for dimensional model but the enhanced features of this package means that it is more suited to curved shapes. Therefore, zooming right in at a detail within an interior project, such as highlighting a supplier’s product that is going into a room space, a one-off curved lighting features, for example.

Therefore, following this brief summary, it is useful for the potential student to decide what they are trying to achieve at this stage of their career before diving straight into learning a new brand new software package. It would also be useful to inform themselves of the costs of the various packages and what the hardware requirements are so that they can be installed on their laptop at home.

Examples of where such courses can be taken are provided at the following link:

Short Courses

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